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Prolonged Sitting

I want you to add up the number of hours in an average day that you spend sitting. Be honest, and don’t forget to include tasks such as driving, waiting for/riding the bus, reading, watching TV, computer use, talking on the phone, studying and/or hours at your workplace. It adds up pretty quickly, and has been estimated that about 50-70% of an adults waking hours are spend being sedentary. If you get 7 hours of sleep night that works out to roughly 8.5-12 hours of sloth like activity!

We all know that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, premature death, etc… the list goes on. Current guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise 5 times per week. However, these exercise guidelines are based on the idea that a person undertakes a certain level of “baseline” light-intensity activity. This baseline activity is made up of everyday tasks, or activities of daily living, such as: household tasks, standing, lifting light objects, walking slowing, and other various social activities.

In today’s world with so many social, technological, and environmental changes time spent undertaking sedentary behaviours has drastically increased while our baseline activity has decreased. For most of us, our environment encourages prolonged sitting, whether it’s your occupation or your downtime. Prolonged sitting is now considered a risk factor for several adverse health outcomes, namely obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even premature mortality. Even just one single day of prolonged sitting has been shown to reduce the action of insulin (a hormone that maintains healthy blood sugar levels). The guideline of 5 days of moderately-intense activity is no longer enough to reverse the effects of prolonged sitting. Even the desk-bound by day marathon runner by night can’t escape these risks.

No matter what your regular physical activity entails, uninterrupted prolonged sitting has negative consequences for your health. Currently there are no recommendations for how long we can sit, and how often and for how long we should break up this sitting time. But, there is some good news. We all have the ability to choose a healthier lifestyle and it’s thought that even brief interruptions to sitting reduces these health risks. So, we need to avoid prolonged periods of sitting and continue to engage in regular physical activity. Swap sedentary activity for light-intensity activity and promote this in the workplace and at home.

Needs some ideas? Try starting with:

  • Standing while talking on the phone
  • Stand while you read and write emails (a height adjustable desk will help with those ergonomics!)
  • Use speaker phone or use a headset at work so you can get up and move around
  • Set an alarm to ring every 30 minutes then spend 2 minutes going up and down the stairs or walking around the office

Bottom line, we need to move more and sit less! If you don’t already have an exercise plan, grab a friend and start walking after work or contact us for any new ideas or exercise plans.

As always, please feel free to call, email or drop in with any questions.


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